I like to read fiction and non-fiction that has to do with other parts of the world. I like to read mysteries and historical novels and history non-fiction.
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be readMy darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.
An unidentified body appears to have been run down by a motorcar and Ian Rutledge is leading the investigation to uncover what happened. While signs point to murder, vital questions remain. Who is the victim? And where, exactly, was he killed? One small clue leads the Inspector to a firm built by two families, famous for producing and selling the world's best Madeira wine. Lewis French, the current head of the English enterprise is missing. But is he the dead man? And do either his fiancée or his jilted former lover have anything to do with his disappearance-or possible death? What about his sister? Or the London office clerk? Is Matthew Traynor, French's cousin and partner who heads the Madeira office, somehow involved?The experienced Rutledge knows that suspicion and circumstantial evidence are not proof of guilt, and he's going to keep digging for answers. But that perseverance will pit him against his supervisor, the new Acting Chief Superintendent. When Rutledge discovers a link to an incident in the family's past, the superintendent dismisses it, claiming the information isn't vital. He's determined to place blame on one of French's women despite Rutledge's objections. Alone in a no man's land rife with mystery and danger, Rutledge must tread very carefully, for someone has decided that he, too, must die so that cruel justice can take its course.
The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.
An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . .And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secretLondon, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London's most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn't come easily to her—and perhaps never will.Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There's only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d'Orsey.So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d'Orsey's story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva's past and Grace's future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women, The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope.
A Chinese ginseng hunter lives alone in the valley, where he spends his days preparing for winter. He is scarcely aware of the larger world until shadowy figures, floating bodies, and rumors of murder begin to intrude on his cherished solitude. Then, on a trip to Yanji, he meets a young North Korean prostitute. Through her vivid tales, the tragedy occurring across the river unfolds, and soon the hunter realizes that the fates of the young woman and four others rest in his hands.An unforgettable look at life along the fragile border between China and North Korea, The Ginseng Hunter is a confirmation of Jeff Talarigo's talent for finding humanity in the most unexpected places.From the Trade Paperback edition.
A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld.
Tuscany, 1958Behind a villa in the heart of Tuscany lies a Renaissance garden of enchanting beauty. Its grottoes, pagan statues and classical inscriptions seem to have a secret life of their own - and a secret message, too, for those with eyes to read it.Young scholar Adam Strickland is just such a person. Arriving in 1958, he finds the Docci family, their house and the unique garden as seductive as each other. But post-War Italy is still a strange, even dangerous, place and the Doccis have some dark skeletons hidden away in their past.Before this mysterious and beautiful summer ends, Adam will uncover two stories of love, revenge and murder, separated by 400 years... but is another tragedy about to be added to the villa's cursed history?
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New WritersPan Yuliang was a girl with no dreams. Her parents were taken from her at a young age, then her uncle sold her into prostitution; it was enough for many years just to cope and survive. One day, fate places a kind gentlemanin her path, and she begins to discover the city outside the brotheland the world beyond China's borders. As a larger canvas of life emerges, Pan realizes that she has something of value to say -- and a talent through which she can express herself. From Shanghai to Paris, Pan is challenged by the harsh realities in politics, art, and love, and must rely on her own strength to develop her talent. In so doing, she takes a relatively ordinary life and makes it extraordinary.A work of fiction -- but based on the life and work of a real artist -- The Painter from Shanghai transports readers to early-20th-century China, a culture marked by oppression. Epstein has proven herself a shining talent in this first novel, tackling such weighty questions as: How does a talented artist blossom, even under repressive conditions? What is art, and what is love? What makes a life well lived? The answers form a mesmerizing portrait of one young woman's journey to find herself and to nourish her creative talents despite appreciable odds.(Summer 2008 Selection)
As it follows a Japanese housewife named Mariko Tanaka over the course of a year, The Secrets of Mariko transcends reportage to yield the kind of human insights we expect from literature. Meet Mariko, a cheerful, overscheduled woman who cares for three children, two aging parents, and an unresponsive husband. As readers watch Mariko take part in PTA meetings, bicker with her teenagers, and pursue independence through her part-time job, they come to see Mariko as someone whose dreams and disappointments mirror our own.
The critically-acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sinsWhen their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a town not far from the Appalachian mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly appears and wants to spend more time with them. Unfortunately, Wade has signed away legal rights to his daughters, and the only way he can get Easter and Ruby back is to steal them away in the middle of the night.Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn't the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.
A grieving young widow, seeking answers to her husband's death, becomes entangled in an investigation steeped in the darkest mysteries of Rome.Sandra Vega, a forensic analyst with the Roman police department, mourns deeply for a marriage that ended too soon. A few months ago, in the dead of night, her husband, an up-and-coming journalist, plunged to his death at the top of a high-rise construction site. The police ruled it an accident. Sanda is convinced it was anything but.Launching her own inquiries, Sanda finds herself on a dangerous trail, working the same case that she is convinced led to her husband's murder. An investigation which is deeply entwined with a series of disappearances that has swept the city, and brings Sandra ever closer to a centuries-old secret society that will do anything to stay in the shadows.
A gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife-separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil-fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian IslandsFollowing the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, after an argument they both regret, he heads north from Seattle to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government.While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the Birthplace of Winds." There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.Alone in their home three thousand miles to the south, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is-and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.A powerful, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.
The Exiles Return is set in Occupied Vienna in 1954-5. It describes five people who grew up there before the war and have come back to see if they can re-establish the life they have lost. The novel begins with Professor Kuno Adler, who is Jewish and fled Vienna after the Anschluss (the events of March 1938 when Hitler’s troops marched into Austria). He is returning from New York to try and take up his old life as a research scientist. We realise through his confrontation with officialdom and with the changed fabric of the city (the lime trees are there no longer, it is hard to know who behaved well during the war and who was a Nazi sympathiser) that a refugee who goes back has a very difficult time.Next we are introduced to a wealthy Greek named Kanakis. Before the war his family had lived in great style with a coach and horses and many servants, and now the 40 year-old Kanakis has come back to try and buy an eighteenth-century hotel particulier, a little palais, in which to live a life of eighteenth-century pleasure. He meets Prince Lorenzo Grein-Lauterbach (who owes more than a little to Tadzio in Death in Venice). Bimbo, as he is known – and the nickname is an accurate one – is a 24 year-old who, because his aristocratic, anti- Nazi parents were murdered by the Germans, was spirited away to the country during the war years and afterwards. He is penniless yet retains an overweening sense of entitlement. Kanakis and he develop a homosexual relationship (a brave thing to write about in the 1950s) and he is kept by his older lover. But he has a sister, Princess Nina, who works in a laboratory, the same one to which Adler returns. She lives modestly in the attic of her family’s former palais, is a devout Catholic, loyal to her brother and the memory of her parents, intelligent and hard-working, but, as she perceives it, is stocky and unattractive. Lastly, there is 18 year-old Marie-Theres, whose parents went to America just before the war; they, and her siblings, have become completely American, but Resi (as she is known, possibly with a deliberate echo of Henry James’s What Maisie Knew) has never fitted in and is déplacée. So she goes back to her Austrian aunt and uncle to see if she can make a life in the home country (from her parents point of view to see if she can be married off) yet here too she is an innocent abroad, unable, to put down roots. Her tragedy is at the core of this moving and evocative book, which explores a very complex and interesting question: if an exile returns, how should he or she behave morally? Some have moral fastidiousness (Adler, Nina), some are ruthlessly on the make (Kanakis, Bimbo), some have no moral code because they have never been educated to acquire one (Resi).Each of the exiles describes an aspect of the author herself. Elisabeth de Waal was brought up in the Palais Ephrussi, so wonderfully evoked by her grandson Edmund de Waal in his bestselling The Hare with Amber Eyes. Her mother’s life was the one for which the ‘startlingly beautiful’, fictional Resi was bred and should have grown into. Elisabeth herself was much more like Princess Nina, ‘a serious young girl who was, as Edmund de Waal said recently in an interview with Mark Lawson on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, ‘desperate to get from one side of the Ringstrasse in this crazily marble and gilt edifice to the other side where there was this fantastically exciting university full of philosophers and economists, and she did it through sheer dogged will power.’ Yet, although there are aspects of Resi and of Nina in Elisabeth, we can imagine that Professor Adler was the character with whom she identified most. And, although she obviously would have shrunk from identifying with Kanakis and Bimbo, she knew that they were in her family background and that even those two, the wealthy Greek playboy and the dissolute young aristocrat, had elements of what she might have been.Elisabeth arrived in England in 1939 and became a wartime and post-war housewife, like so many of the women in Persephone books. We can imagine her struggling with How to Run your home without Help and Plats du Jour. She coached children in Latin, maintained a large correspondence, and wrote a few reviews for the TLS – but mostly what she did was write novels, two in German and three in English. The Exiles Return is the first to be published.
Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
An old man lies dying. Propped up in his living room and surrounded by his children and grandchildren, George Washington Crosby drifts in and out of consciousness, back to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in Maine. As the clock repairer’s time winds down, his memories intertwine with those of his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler and his grandfather, a Methodist preacher beset by madness. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, illness, faith, and the fierce beauty of nature.Paul Harding is the author of two novels: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers and Enon (forthcoming in September 2013). He graduated from the University of Massachusetts and was a drummer for the band Cold Water Flat before earning his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has taught writing at Harvard and the University of Iowa. A Guggenheim Fellow, Harding now lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bus, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.
Recovering from the severe mental and physical wounds inflicted from his recent past, Jack Taylor has finally found a modicum of peace. He has managed to kick the myriad substances that have had a stranglehold over his painful life. Yet this fragile existence is threatened when a vigilante killer begins targeting the scum of Galway, signing mysterious notes with the moinker 'C 33'. The killer addresses these cryptic letters to Jack, trying to goad the former cop into joining the murderous spree and to help cleanse Galway.While Jack must unravel who this demented killer is, he is also brought into the fold of an enigmatic tech billionaire who has been buying up massive amounts of property in Galway, seemingly in the hopes of offering this downtrodden city a better future. Yet if Jack has learned one thing living in Ireland, it's that people who outwardly claim to be on the side of righteousness are likely harboring far more nefarious motives beneath the surface.With the help of his friends, former dealer-turned-zen master Stewart and dogged police sergeant Ridge, Jack is determined to track down C 33, even if it jeopardizing his livelihood, his friends, and even the remaining shreds of his own sanity. C 33 is Bruen at his best: lyrical, brutal, and ceaselessly suspenseful.
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.
From a hardscrabble fishing village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, a richly atmospheric debut novel about a family divided by World War I.When adventurous Ebbin goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and search for his beloved brother-in-law. With his navigation experience, Angus is assured a position as a cartographer in London. But upon arriving overseas he is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his perceptive son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone expressing less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war.With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible Bridge, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a lyrical and lasting portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.
Modern ideas get tangled up with traditional ones in the latest intriguing installment in the beloved, best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Precious Ramotswe has taken on two puzzling cases. First she is approached by the lawyer Mma Sheba, who is the executor of a deceased farmer’s estate. Mma Sheba has a feeling that the young man who has stepped forward may be falsely impersonating the farmer’s nephew in order to claim his inheritance. Mma Ramotswe agrees to visit the farm and find out what she can about the self-professed nephew. Then the proprietor of the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon comes to Mma Ramotswe for advice. The opening of her new salon has been shadowed by misfortune. Not only has she received a bad omen in the mail, but rumors are swirling that the salon is using dangerous products that burn people’s skin. Could someone be trying to put the salon out of business? Meanwhile, at the office, Mma Ramotswe has noticed something different about Grace Makutsi lately. Though Mma Makutsi has mentioned nothing, it has become clear that she is pregnant . . . But in Botswana—a land where family has always been held above all else—this may be cause for controversy as well as celebration. With genuine warmth, sympathy, and wit, Alexander McCall Smith explores some tough questions about married life, parenthood, grief, and the importance of the traditions that shape and guide our lives. This is the fourteenth installment in the series.
I like to read fiction and non-fiction that has to do with other parts of the world. I like to read mysteries and historical novels and history non-fiction.